(The Capsule of Shenzhou spacecraft is on display at Airshow China 2016)
China will launch at least four manned missions with Shenzhou spacecraft before the end of 2022 to build a space station, according to a senior space official.
Yang Liwei, deputy head of the China Manned Space Agency and the first Chinese astronaut in space, said on the sidelines of the 2017 Global Space Exploration Conference that the nation will start building its first manned space station in 2019. The first step will be the launch of a Long March 5B heavy-lift rocket to put the station's core module into orbit, he said.
In a letter of congratulations to the conference, which opened on Tuesday in Beijing, President Xi Jinping said China is willing to enhance cooperation with the international community in peaceful space exploration and development.
Xi hailed the achievements of 20th-century space exploration and said progress in space science and technology will benefit people around the world.
China is the third country to independently achieve manned spaceflight, following the former Soviet Union and the United States.
In another development, the China National Space Administration announced on Tuesday that the country's Chang'e 4 unmanned lunar probe will carry four scientific devices－from the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden and Saudi Arabia－to the lunar surface around 2018 and make the world's first soft-landing on the far side of the moon.